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Factors influencing truth-telling by healthcare providers to terminally ill cancer patients at Ocean Road Cancer Institute in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania

R Athanas, F Gasto, S J Renatha

Abstract


Background:  Widely accepted international clinical ethics standards and Tanzania’s national cancer treatments guidelines mandate that healthcare providers give patients the information they want or need in an understandable way. However, adherence to these standards is low particularly in developing countries. In Tanzania, little is known regarding the views and practice of disclosure of diagnosis and prognosis to cancer patients.

Objective:  In this study, we aimed at examining the factors influencing truth-telling by healthcare providers to terminally ill cancer patients at Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI) in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.

Methods: We conducted semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of healthcare providers (n=13) and terminally ill cancer patients (n=8) in English and Swahili. The interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim, and translated to English.

Results: Study findings show unsatisfactory experience of truth-telling according to international clinical standards. Many healthcare providers emphasized many barriers including: limited communication skills, limited time, a high volume of patients and lack of privacy for communication. Patients’ preferences and readiness to information as well as family collusion were identified as barriers, whereas communalism was identified as facilitator to truth-telling.

Conclusion: We identified several barriers and facilitators of truth-telling that may be targeted in order to promote high-quality communication at ORCI. Our results support advocacy for improvements like: training for clinical communication skills and information sharing, space designated to enhance privacy, deliberate efforts to employ enough providers to care for the increasing volume of patients, and need of counselling session with patients and family members prior to clinical information disclosure


Authors' affiliations

R Athanas, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences

F Gasto,

S J Renatha,

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Cite this article

South African Journal of Bioethics and Law 2020;13(2):108. DOI:10.7196/SAJBL.2020.v13i2.00706

Article History

Date submitted: 2020-12-15
Date published: 2020-12-15

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